Here is a simple timeline of events during Edwardian Britain, from 1901 until the outbreak of war in 1914 (OK, we know that’s technically beyond the Edwardian era, but 1914 is a convenient full-stop; the world after the First World War is a very different one).
Seebohm Rowntree publishes Poverty, A Study of Town Life, which shocks the establishment.
Edward VII becomes King.
The first wireless transmission across the Atlantic is made, from Cornwall to Canada.
Britain finally wins the Boer War, but the use of concentration camps has made Britain internationally unpopular.
Balfour’s Education Act – placed the administration of all elementary schools in the hands of local education authorities and encouraged the development of secondary education.
The first Marmite factory was established in Burton upon Trent.
The first Lib-Lab Pact – does much to weaken the Liberal Party.
The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) was founded by six women, including Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst.
In a wider context, Wilbur and Orville Wright make the first successful piloted powered flight at Kitty Hawk, USA.
The Entente Cordial is signed between Britain and France.
J M Barrie publishes Peter Pan.
Liberals win General Election on a platform of social reform.
The world’s most powerful battleship, HMS Dreadnought, is launched at Portsmouth.
In Manchester, Charles Stewart Rolls and Sir Frederick Henry Royce form Rolls-Royce Limited.
Edith Nesbit publishes The Railway Children.
Britain agrees spheres of influence with Russia, forming the so-called Triple Entente of Britain, France and Russia – as opposed to the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria and Italy (1882).
The Music Hall Strike – artistes campaign for better pay and conditions.
Old age state pensions are introduced.
The Olympic Games are held in London.
Robert Baden-Powell wrote Scouting for Boys – the birth of the scouting movement.
Boys’ story paper The Magnet introduces the character of Billy Bunter, by author Frank Richards (real name Charles Harold St John Hamilton).
American Samuel Franklin Cody makes the first powered flight in Britain.
Liberal Chancellor David Lloyd George introduces his People’s Budget to fund social reforms. The budget is rejected by the House of Lords, forcing a General Election.
American Harry Selfridge opens his department store on Oxford Street.
Frenchman Louis Blériot flies across the English Channel.
The Sidney Street Siege takes place – gunfire on the streets of London as armed police and soldiers (with ‘assistance’ from Home Secretary Winston Churchill) confront revolutionary terrorists.
The People’s Budget is passed with the help of Labour and Irish Nationalist support in the House of Commons.
Edward VII dies; George V becomes King.
Suffragettes, imprisoned for offences such as wilful damage, begin to go on hunger strike; eventually, the authorities decide to force-feed them.
Tonypandy, South Wales – miners’ strike turns violent. Home Secretary Winston Churchill is criticised by many for not sending in troops sooner to prevent looting and by others for allowing them to be sent at all.
Parliament Act – the House of Lords loses its absolute power of veto over legislation passed by the House of Commons.
The Agadir Crisis – rebellion in Morocco sparks French interest; Germany sends a gunboat to protect German interests; Britain sends battleships to support the French.
Violence escalates during the Liverpool Dock Strike (one of a wave of strikes prior to WW1): many are injured, troops shoot dead two strikers and a warship patrols off the coast at Birkenhead.
Winston Churchill becomes First Lord of the Admiralty.
Government introduces national insurance and unemployment benefit, laying the foundations for the Welfare State.
Captain Robert Falcon Scott reaches the South Pole, only to find that Norwegian Roald Amundsen got there first; Scott and his party perish on the return journey.
The Government proposes Home Rule for Ireland: in response, protestants and unionists in Ireland form the Ulster Volunteer Force, threatening civil war.
The Royal Flying Corps is established.
RMS Titanic sinks with the loss of more than 1500 lives.
Coal miners stage a national strike.
Emily Davison promotes the suffragette cause by throwing herself under the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby and subsequently dies.
George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion premiers – in Austria.
D H Lawrence publishes Sons and Lovers.
Some army officers suggest they will mutiny if ordered to enforce Home Rule in Ireland.
On 28th June, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria is murdered in Sarajevo, Austro-Hungary’s response provokes a crisis which drags in the world powers, Germany invades Belgium and on 4th August the British Empire declares war on Germany. The First World War is underway.